Sunday, March 12, 2006

News Under the Radar Screen

A visit to Capital Annex alerted me to juicy news out of Texas. The Houston Chronicle has unearthed quite the scam. It seems former aide to disgraced Rep. Tom DeLay, former partner to disgraced Jack Abramoff and former aide to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison were hired and paid by Gov. Rick Perry but they never did any actual work.

After firing "17 full-time, less lavishly paid employees from Texas' Office of State-Federal Relations," Perry hired and paid three lobbyist as much as $667 an hour under the elusive "meeting and "phone calls" category -- without any backup documentation.

While the hours and activities of the lobbyists were vague, the issues they worked on and the side of the aisle they frequented couldn't be more obvious. Just one lobbyist reported working with Texas Democrats; the lawmakers the lobbyist mentioned said they had no record of contact with him.

Meanwhile, the lobbyists' projects were identical to those initiated by Republican leaders. Lead lobbyist Drew Maloney, for example, reported working on two personal projects for DeLay: desalination in Freeport and a Sugar Land energy research center. Surely DeLay, still influential after stepping down as House majority leader, needs no help.

The Chronicle obtained the records via the Texas Public Information Act. Like Annex says, it's amazing what you can find with a little digging around. These Republican folks are bad to the core, without shame. One-party rule breeds contempt and then corruption. The madness must stop in November 2006.

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